Defensive end Anthony Spencer admitted it’s going to be tough for him to come back from microfracture surgery, and the Dallas Cowboys know he might start the season on the physically unable to perform list.
“This injury is really uncommon. You rarely see guys coming back from it,” Spencer said Friday at Valley Ranch. “So I’m really not looking at any type of timetable. I’m just on my body schedule. Wherever my body is, that’s where I am.”
Spencer had the procedure on his knee last October, shortly after he played in one game following arthroscopic surgery that summer at the start of training camp.
Microfracture surgery repairs the cartilage that cushions the area where bones meet.
The National Institutes of Health website said recovery can take four to six months and that athletes in “intense sports” might not be able to return to their previous level.
“I try not to push it too much, try not to be too far or go too far in front of it where it is,” Spencer said. “I mean, it’s a process. I’m learning how to gauge it, what I can do and what I can’t do. The more I can do, the more I can do the next day. It’s getting better.”
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team knew the risk when it re-signed him.
“Anthony thinks he might beat that, and I hope he does,” Jones said. “But we came into this knowing this. It’s not going to be an ‘Oh-my-God-he-didn’t-make-the-first-game.’ We knew that was a very real possibility.”
Two years ago, Spencer had his best season with a career-high 11 sacks and a career- and team-high 106 tackles. The Cowboys franchised him and had high hopes, but the knee problem developed in the days leading up to training camp and he played in only one game, Week 2 at Kansas City.
“I watch myself and watch the film to try to get back to where I was at that time,” Spencer said, when asked if he believes he can return to his 2011 and 2012 level.
“Right now, I’m far from being at that place. I’m just doing what I can to get back to that spot. I think it’s possible. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”
Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence missed the first day of the rookie minicamp because his girlfriend gave birth Thursday, coach Jason Garrett said.
Garrett said Lawrence made it to Valley Ranch for “a few hours,” but returned to Boise, Idaho, to be with his family. Garrett said the Cowboys expect Lawrence to come back for the Saturday and Sunday practices.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said he can’t wait to get his hands on the rookie.
“I think he’s got a chance to be a real rusher,” he said. “Got exceptional quickness off the ball. Instantaneous movement to reactions. Great motor.”
New defensive tackle
The Cowboys signed former first-round defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who played for Marinelli in Chicago in 2011 and 2012.
The 26-year-old out of Louisville did not play last year.
“Amobi’s been dealing with some medical issues that he’s got to overcome,” Jones said. “If he gets back from them, then Amobi can play. He played very well for Rod.”
The 6-foot-2, 302-pound Okoye, born in Nigeria, was drafted by the Houston Texans with the No. 10 pick in 2007. He started 58 games for the Texans and had 5.5 sacks as a rookie and 4.0 in his first year with the Bears.
The Cowboys also released linebacker James Stewart.
The Cowboys signed seventh-round safety Ahmad Dixon, who missed the first day of the rookie minicamp because of what Garrett said is a groin issue.
Dixon is the fourth of the Cowboys’ five seventh-round picks to sign.
He was dressed and on the field for practice Friday. But he did not have a helmet, and instead just watched the position drills.
Dixon said the injury came from overwork.
RB to work out
The Cowboys are going to work out former Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams, who missed his rookie season because of a knee injury.